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April 13, 2009

Vermont legislature considering "sexting exception" to child porn prohibitions

The Burlington Free Press had this recent coverage of the latest notable "sexting" legal development. The article is headlined "Legislature considers legalizing teen 'sexting': Bill would exempt teens from child-porn laws for consensual image exchange," and starts this way:

Vermont’s Legislature is considering a bill that, if approved, would make the state one of the first in the nation to grant legal protections to teenagers who send sexually explicit photos and videos to one another with their cell phones.

The law change is receiving widespread support from prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, women’s groups and others.  Still, some advocates are questioning whether the proposal crosses the line between legalizing a common practice among teens experimenting with sexuality and protecting predators who target and exploit youngsters.

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Comments

While I think this is likely a good idea, I can certainly see where this would lead to problems.

How are the following circumstances to be handled?

1) Minor A sends photo to minor B, some time later minor B is no longer a minor, but minor A still is. B is investigated for something else and the photos are found.

2) Minor A takes photos and saves them until they are no longer a minor. Again unrelated investigation turns up the phtos.

3) Same as 2 but no investigation, instead A tries to sell the images.

Are the considerations in any of the above altered by A's age at the time of the photos?

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Apr 13, 2009 6:42:51 PM

That really bothers me. Can anyone think of anything else that would be legal for children to possess but illegal for adults? I can't. Everything we do from voting, to booze, to driving we say adults can do this but kids can't. We are now turning that logic on its head. Indeed, the whole structure of our laws are that we need to protect the mature from the behavior of the immature. While I understand in limited circumstances the need to protect kids from adults (such as child abuse) this goes way way to far. I am sincerely bothered by this trend that gives children more rights than adults.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 13, 2009 7:09:28 PM

Blame sex ed propaganda for this problem. Let's say, you start in kindergarten. You teach highly detailed, technical information about bomb making. You add the moral message, you should never make a bomb. Given the immaturity of children, do you think there will be fewer explosions or more explosions after such a curriculum?

These kids need punishment by parents, including the denial of phone and computer privileges until about age 18. Harsh corporal punishment goes for repeat offenses. Cane them in school assembly. To deter. They do not need state prosecution.

End the anti-family, feminist and homosexual propaganda agenda driven sex ed indoctrination in schools. This toxic PC false propaganda is imposed at the point of a gun onto schools by lawsuits and legislation, passed by family destroying feminist and homosexual agenda promoting lawyers in total, airtight control of the three branches of government. Right now, there is no place to go for legal recourse for such relentless attack on the family.

Why does the lawyer seek to destroy the family? It competes for authority with central government. Family works as a teacher and enforcer of morals and ethics, and must be stopped. The promotion of bastardy by the rent seeking lawyer generates tremendous social pathology, and lawyer jobs.

The Supreme Court privileged and encouraged illegitimacy, economically, by granting it a standard of "intermediate scrutiny" of any rule or law seeking to deter it. It chose to do so in the context of striking down statutes of limitation for paternity lawsuits, solely for the false appearance of their virtue.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 14, 2009 4:49:35 AM

Dan: The lawyer has privileged and immunized murder by children. And now, Prof. Berman is upset by trials as adults for adolescent drug lords, eradicating dozens of their competitors. He is upset they are getting long prison sentences. Perhaps, they should get adjudicated delinquent, and get therapy to age 18. Perhaps on an outpatient basis.

Why? If they do not get long prison sentences, murder and other serious crime are less deterred. You get more crime. Why would a lawyer want more crime. Get more crime, lawyers get more jobs.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 14, 2009 4:57:21 AM

This is completely insane. It may be that our Colleges and Universities are putting out a trashy education in the areas of politics, law and society. Something needs to be done about the continued exploitation of the "tough on sex crime" agenda. It should be obvious; by the rising crime rate, that these policies are not having the desired effect. Now, they want to exempt kids from being accountable for behaviors that are criminal for everyone else? Wow!!!

Human sexuality is increasingly being criminalized by phobic politicians who have no sex life. Kids are going to do what kids do. Mistakes and bad decisions are a part of growing up. My thought on the entire "sex" subject is this: "No consensual sexual acts should be considered a crime unless there is force or threat of force involved, or, if a participant is under the age of 14" I see kids online all the time who video cam in sexual ways. It's not a good thing to do, but shouldn't be seen as the "crime of the century." There are many other things kids can do that are much worse. Perhaps law makers should return to a more compassionate and educated system of thinking before they enact laws. Oh, wait a minute, we're not electing the brightest people in society to office. Why do we continue to re-elect "known failures" back into official positions. Our Nation is in a mess in so many ways that it should be obvious to everyone that more needs to be done to protect liberties, rather than reshaping National social values with draconian legislation, or legislation that makes "exceptions" to the rule.

Walt.

Posted by: Walt | Apr 15, 2009 8:54:25 AM

Possible First Amendment protection for teen “sexters?”

The justification for not protecting child pornography under the First Amendment is that it is necessary to take prurient advantage of a child to make the picture. Hand drawn or computer generated child porn is not illegal (unless they use a live child for an artist’s subject I suppose) – one thinks movie scenes in “The Glitter Dome.”

A sexting teen who transmits her own is not being taken advantage of by an adult or anyone else. If she sends nude pictures to an 80 year old her part in the transaction might very well be protected under the First Amendment – once the first principles of the scenario are considered. Ditto for her side of sexting to a friend.

There is an outside chance a child possessing such the “sext” should be considered to be taking prurient advantage of a minor under the First Amendment (depending on which generation of judges gets hold of it maybe) – but does it make sense to make a teen boyfriend -- who may even have made legal sexual contact with the girl -- the equivalent of an adult who possesses child pornography?

The free speech crossover seems to be when boys distribute nude pictures of girls among themselves without the girls permission – certainly not free speech. But to begin with no child was hurt making the image. The kind of personal damage to a child making pornographic images may be much more devastating than that of having the image passed around (again, once thinks of “The Glitter Dome”) – at least most of the time.

Wouldn’t we feel more comfortable with law that punishes such a gross invasion of privacy in a case for case damage way – not rounding up dozens of students and plastering them all with sex offender status and heavy jail time – but treating the offense as the privacy offense it really is?

Posted by: Denis Drew | Apr 15, 2009 9:46:01 AM

i enjoyed reading your blog very good topics .keep up the good work

Posted by: dl johnson | Oct 22, 2009 8:08:23 PM

It's kinda scary to think a device as a telephone can be the source of so much controversy.

Posted by: Jerry Westwood | Jan 22, 2010 12:11:51 AM

People under 18 should have the right to give it to eachother- while I agree about the problems of when there no longer a minor- that is something we would have to look into after, but you also have to see if there going to do it anyway, and if most adults around them do it, then who are we to say that it shouldnt be legal for them to do it?

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 23, 2010 12:17:04 PM

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